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Stand with Time | Suntech Classic Project—A Look Inside the Head Office’s Eco Building

When the first rays of the sun stretch over the Pacific Ocean horizon at 120 degrees east longitude, they glitter off the long winding Yangtze River on the Asian continent to then shimmer off the PV facade of Suntech head office's Eco Building. The first chapter of the Suntech memoirs opens in this brilliant way.

Representative of China’s Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) project, the Suntech Eco Building was officially completed at the end of 2008. Having stood for over 10 years, this BIPV system featured edifice evokes a contemporary, fashionable style and avant-garde concept while employing solar facade modules for its power generation. The PV facade’s area is a total of 6,900㎡ and its total capacity reaches 1.01MW. At the time of its completion, it was the largest single PV facade system in the world. Covering a total area of 18,000㎡, with a total investment of about 200 million yuan, this building features 7 above-ground floors. The facade’s total height is 37m. Utilizing advanced energy-saving technology, it can provide a continuous 80% power output for the entire building while generating 730,000 KWH per year. In addition to providing the building’s unending, clean power supply, it also supplies power to the grid. This feature plays a beneficial role in relieving the peak demand for power. Suntech’s headquarters is expected to reduce the carbon footprint by 29,000 tons in the coming 25 years. This is equivalent to a reduction of emissions from the burning of 9,180 tons of coal.

Considering the vista of the building’s design features, the PV facade system is designed with an angle of 70degrees. This engineering feature not only satisfies the optimal structural angle demand of the PV panels to obtain the most sunlight, but it also makes the whole building look like spreading wings bathed in sunshine. The inspiration for this symbolic beauty was the notion of Suntech employees spreading their arms wide to embrace the sunshine. The Eco Building was the first large-scale BIPV project in China. Ten years have passed, but the Suntech Eco Building still represents, to a certain extent, the advanced nature of BIPV. It has witnessed many developments and changes in BIPV technology since then. Additionally, this is part of the new trend of green structures that was initiated by Suntech Power in the BIPV field. Suntech has long been a pioneer in the innovative application of solar energy.

The Suntech Eco Building was the first to introduce the concept of a “zero energy, functional, and ecological building” in China. Utilizing a PV glass facade along with other BIPV materials, green solar power is supplied directly to the building. This characteristic is aligned with Suntech’s persistent aspiration; “Sparing no effort to turn the gift of the sun into continuous, green electricity, while creating a cleaner and sustainable future.”

Entering the building, the first thing that comes into view is the Suntech Low-Carbon Concept Pavilion. Your gaze falls upon the countless visual cues of man’s quest for energy sources; from harvesting wood, to making fire, to the roar of steam engines, to thousands of hectares of oil fields, to atomic fission. The development of human society is the history of energy discovery and utilization. Centering on the past, present, and future of energy exploitation and utilization during the progress of human civilization, the Suntech Low-Carbon Concept Pavilion, with its 2,000㎡of exhibition area, reminds us to reflect on the consequences of earth’s environmental damage. It reminds us that this damage has been caused by human’s unrestrained seizure and squandering of fossil energy. It also gives us hope by showing us the way to the brighter future of new energy, carbon neutrality, and low-carbon economy. It is a call for responsible people to take good care of the earth and to choose a low-carbon lifestyle, thus saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

We take the sightseeing elevator through the office area from the second floor to the fifth floor. Each floor is different and unique. Different numbers are printed on the glass walls around the offices, just like they are in “The DaVinci Code,” These numbers are the chromatographic numbers for silicon. They symbolize “the search for energy through silicon.” They are also an intrinsic design expression of sustainable development.

From the top floor overlooking the Suntech Eco Building’s exhibition hall, we see an upward curve to the structure. This abscissa marks the passage of time as the years pass by. The ordinate marks where solar conversion rate rises. This curve is a symbol used to show that as the conversion efficiency of solar energy increases, the cost of solar power generation will become less and less.

Additionally, the Eco Building uses a ground-sourced heat pump air conditioning system. Holes were drilled to a depth of 100m. Taking advantage of the abundant heat and cold storage capacity of shallow strata, the system takes underground heat into the building in the winter and underground cold into the building in the summer. This process forms a complete thermal cycle. Many other design details have been engineered into the complex. For example, the air vents are designed to be placed at the top of the building. This feature follows the principle of air circulation. The PV panels are transparent so that they ensure enough exposure to natural light during the day; while night lighting utilizes an automatic inductive control system.

Architecture is one of the world’s seven major arts. Bold, artistic architecture is expressed perfectly in the Suntech Eco Building. The Eco Building fits the aesthetic demands of a modern office building in people’s imaginations. Sunlight scatters throughout the facade, creating the impressive sense of a 3D space. An internal structure that discards the concept of space utilization can reduce people’s feeling of claustrophobia and maximize their comfort and workplace pleasure.

The construction of integrated solar systems is the contemporary direction for environmental buildings. The Suntech Eco Building is a shining example of this very point. It shows how solar energy can be seamlessly integrated into a modern and attractive building, presenting the perfect green building concept. This is the best practice for the future of green buildings, and it fully embodies Suntech employees’ idea to implement and practice a scientific outlook on development to create a green future that benefits all of humanity.


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